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|A Little Princess||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
One of the Populace
|Page 5 of 7||
Sara opened the paper bag and took out one of the hot buns, which had already warmed her own cold hands a little.
"See," she said, putting the bun in the ragged lap, "this is nice and hot. Eat it, and you will not feel so hungry."
The child started and stared up at her, as if such sudden, amazing good luck almost frightened her; then she snatched up the bun and began to cram it into her mouth with great wolfish bites.
"Oh, my! Oh, my!" Sara heard her say hoarsely, in wild delight. "OH my>!"
Sara took out three more buns and put them down.
The sound in the hoarse, ravenous voice was awful.
"She is hungrier than I am," she said to herself. "She's starving." But her hand trembled when she put down the fourth bun. "I'm not starving," she said--and she put down the fifth.
The little ravening London savage was still snatching and devouring when she turned away. She was too ravenous to give any thanks, even if she had ever been taught politeness--which she had not. She was only a poor little wild animal.
"Good-bye," said Sara.
When she reached the other side of the street she looked back. The child had a bun in each hand and had stopped in the middle of a bite to watch her. Sara gave her a little nod, and the child, after another stare--a curious lingering stare--jerked her shaggy head in response, and until Sara was out of sight she did not take another bite or even finish the one she had begun.
At that moment the baker-woman looked out of her shop window.
"Well, I never!" she exclaimed. "If that young un hasn't given her buns to a beggar child! It wasn't because she didn't want them, either. Well, well, she looked hungry enough. I'd give something to know what she did it for."
She stood behind her window for a few moments and pondered. Then her curiosity got the better of her. She went to the door and spoke to the beggar child.
"Who gave you those buns?" she asked her. The child nodded her head toward Sara's vanishing figure.
"What did she say?" inquired the woman.
"Axed me if I was 'ungry," replied the hoarse voice.
"What did you say?"
"Said I was jist."
"And then she came in and got the buns, and gave them to you, did she?"
The child nodded.
The woman thought it over.
"Left just one for herself," she said in a low voice. "And she could have eaten the whole six--I saw it in her eyes."
She looked after the little draggled far-away figure and felt more disturbed in her usually comfortable mind than she had felt for many a day.
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|A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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